Is Lukaku the answer to Chelsea's worries?

With Fernando Torres still misfiring and Daniel Sturridge still not tested as a lone striker, could Lukaku be the answer to Chelsea's striking issues?
Things are going from bad to worse for Chelsea FC after they have failed to win any of their last 7 games in all competitions. With Roberto Di Matteo sacked last month and Rafa Benitez yet to register a win for his new club, things are not well at Stamford Bridge. This winless run is Chelsea's worst in the last 18 years and the poorest start to a season in Roman Abramovich's tenure as club owner.

What makes things worse for Chelsea is the fact that they have scored only once in their last 3 games. Chelsea were amongst the goals with the three amigos of Eden Hazard, Juan Mata and Oscar finding the net on a regular basis but their alarming dip in form has seen the Blues' goal tally dry up lately. The woeful form of Fernando Torres in front of goal and injuries to Daniel Sturridge hasn't helped the West Londers' cause in anyway

Chelsea's lack of options up front has been one of the key reasons for their decline. Fernando Torres has now gone more than 12 hours without scoring a goal, Chelsea might go all out in January to sign a new striker, but do they really need to? Of course they do as Daniel Sturridge, if rumuors are to go by, will be aold off next month. That would leave Chelsea with two strikers in Torres and the new forward they plan to buy.

If Chelsea were to be alive in as many as three competitions until then, they definetely need to arm themselves and have a minimum of three good strikers.

Am I the answer now?

Signed last season from Anderlecht, Romelu Lukaku was seen by many as the natural heir to Chelsea legend Didier Drogba. Lukaku managed 33 goals during his spell with Anderlecht but could hardly make a place for himself at Chelsea. With Fernando Torres and Didier Drogba in the same line up, chances were always going to be hard to come by for the young Belgian and he had to settle for a few substitute appearances for Chelsea and spent most of his time playing for the club's reserves.

At the start of the season, Di Matteo decided to ship him out to Steve Clarke's West Bromwich Albion to get some valuable game time and experience. This was deemed by many as a bad decision seeing Chelsea's lack of options up front.

So far Lukaku has not dissapointed in his new club and even though starts have been hard to come by due to high competition from the likes of Shane Long and Peter Odemwingie, Lukaku has managed to find the net 5 times more recently in the 3-1 defeat to Swansea City.

So is re-calling Lukaku the right move?

Chelsea's Champions League triumph last season was a sign of new things to come for the club. The famous 'Old Guard' were to be eased out and their usually work-man like performances to make way for a more expansive, fluid style of football on the lines of Spanish giants Barcelona. Chelsea's swashbuckling start to the league season was a treat to watch, but it was observed that the club lack the experience to play the tiki-taka brand of football. Chelsea have failed to break down the opposition defence if Mata, Oscar and Hazard don't click. A Plan B was missing. This is where Lukaku's presence will be invaluable.

Chelsea's most dominant period in the Premier League was when Didier Drogba was the focal point. Drogba had the ability to bully defenders and had the exceptional quality of holding the ball up and bring the other midfielders into play, something neither Torres nor Sturridge are offering. Apart from having a good build, Lukaku's ability to play as a target man and having exceptionally good feet will offer Chelsea more variety while going forward. If Chelsea's quick passing does not click, Lukaku can offer a more physical approach up front.

The Belgian is also used to the system Chelsea play, having played in a similar environment with Belgium who too have an array of attacking midfielders playing behind the striker. Lukaku could also turn out to be a better fit than Daniel Sturridge as the focal point of the attack. Sturridge who has usually spent his Chelsea career on the wings has hardly been tested up front with Fernando Torres being preferred to him for a vast majority of the games, whereas Lukaku has played as centre forward at West Brom when Shane Long has been replaced or rested.

Here are a few stats based on this season's display. Comparing the two Chelsea forwards and Lukaku:

Striker Apps (Sub) Goals + Assists Shots on target
Fernando Torres 21 (1) 7+1 24
Daniel Sturridge 2 (12) 2+1 11
Romelu Lukaku 4 (9) 5+1 15

The fact that Lukaku has alone scored 6 goals usually coming on as a sub speaks a lot about how big an impact player he can be for Chelsea if he is recalled. Fernando Torres alone cannot be trusted it seems and Sturridge has hardly been influential when he has come on as a substitute. Also another interesting fact here is that even though Torres and Sturridge have quality players around them to feed in passes on a regular basis, the amount of shots on goal when compared to Lukaku hardly looks good who has managed a better ratio based on the number of appearances.

If the rumours are to be believed, Sturridge could be on his way out of the club in January so even if Chelsea decide to recall Lukaku, they will still need to procure the services of another striker as well. Liverpool have adeptly demonstrated this season that having only two strikers to call upon is ill-advised and would put a lot of pressure on Lukaku thereby stunting his progression. Operating as part of at least a three-man strike force would be most benenifcial to him at this stage of his career as he has shown during his spell with West Brom in the company of Long and Odemwingie.

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